Wang Junxia

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Wang Junxia
Personal information
Nationality Chinese
Born (1973-01-19) January 19, 1973 (age 44)[1]
Jiaohe, Jilin City, China[2]
Height 162 cm (5 ft 4 in)[2]
Weight 50 kg (110 lb)[2]
Sport distance running
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)

1500 metres: 3:51.92[1]
3000 metres: 8:06.11[1]
5000 metres: 14:51.87[1]
10000 metres: 29:31.78[1]

Marathon: 2:24:07[1]

Wang Junxia (simplified Chinese: 王军霞; traditional Chinese: 王軍霞; pinyin: Wáng Jūnxiá; born January 19, 1973) is a Chinese former long-distance runner. Her best years lay between 1991 and 1996. Wang was coached by Ma Junren until 1995 and by Mao Dezhen from 1995 to her retirement after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.


Early years[edit]

Born in Jiaohe, Jilin, Wang beat Ethiopian Gete Wami to win the 1992 World Junior Championships in Athletics in 10,000 m (32:29.90) in Seoul, Korea.

1993: Record-setting year[edit]

In April 1993, Wang set a world-leading time and former Asian best in marathon (2:24:07). In May, she broke the Asian record of 3000 m in a fast time of 8:27.68 in the Chinese National Championships. In August, Chinese women distance runners under coach Ma Junren stunned the world and swept the world titles from 1500 m to 10,000 m in Stuttgart, Germany. Wang claimed the world title in 10,000 m (30:49.30), although she was sick before the race. In less than a month, she went on to win the 3000 m and 10,000 m in Chinese National Games with 3 world records in 3 races.

On September 8, she won the 10,000 m final in a world record of 29:31.78, which bettered the former record by 42 seconds and was also the first-ever sub-30 minute performance in this event. The 10,000 record would remain on the books as the world record until the 2016 Olympics when it was smashed by Ethiopian Almaz Ayana.

On September 11, she finished second in 1500 m behind her teammate, Qu Yunxia in another world record breaking race. Qu ran 3:50.46 (world record at the time) against Wang's 3:51.92. Four years later, Bo Jiang and Yinglai Lang ran slightly faster than Wang in the same race. Qu's record remained on the books until it was finally beaten by Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia when she ran 3:50.07 at the Herculis meet in Monaco on July 15, 2015. Wang is currently fifth on the all-time list.

In 3000 m heats on September 12, Wang's teammates broke the 3000 m world record in the first heat. This world record was just briefly held, when it was erased by Wang in the second heat. The next day she claimed the 3000 m in another record time 8:06.11. She also won the World Cup Marathon Championships later in the year.

In 1994, she was awarded the Jesse Owens prize on the remarkable performances in 1993. She was the first and only Chinese and Asian person to win the prize. Although she won the Asian Games in 10,000 m with a world-leading time (30:50.34) later in the year in Hiroshima, her world-record breaking form was obviously gone.

In 1995, Wang and her teammates broke up with their coach Ma due to prize money and his harsh coaching style. After a short period of training on their own without a major success, Wang started to train under coach Mao Dezhen to prepare for the 1996 Olympics. In Nanjing, she announced a comeback in the Olympics Trials, where she ran quality times in both 5000 m and 10,000 m.

1996 Olympics[edit]

At the 1996 Summer Olympics, Wang won the new Olympic event, women's 5000 m (14:59.88) and a silver in the 10,000 m (31:02.58) just a second behind Portuguese Fernanda Ribeiro. Ribeiro made a heroic final lap kick that surprised Wang and perhaps because she was not used to being challenged, she was unable to react to it. In fact, not only did both women's performances better the previous Olympic record in the 10,000 m, they ran it in such high temperatures that officials were handing out cups of water in the middle of the race, like a marathon. She retired after the Olympics and married Zhan Yu.

After retirement[edit]

The Guardian reported in 2001 that Wang was living anonymously in Beijing.[3] In 2008 Wang and her husband Huang Tianwen moved to Denver, Colorado.[4] In 2012, she told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that she was writing her autobiography.[4]

There were doping allegations about her 1993 performances. The Chinese authorities fired her coach, Ma Junren, from the Olympic team in 2000 after six of his athletes failed drugs tests,[5] and a journalist once described Wang and compatriot Qu Yunxia as "the chemical sisters".[6] The IAAF faced criticism when Wang was named as one of the 12 inaugural members of its Hall of Fame.[5] Wang was the only Chinese athlete to repeat her 1993 successes at the 1996 Olympics, under a different coach, though Qu had managed a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics. In 2016, a letter in which Wang allegedly admitted to participating in a Chinese-state-sponsored doping regime was revealed by Chinese state media, fueling suspicion over the legitimacy of Wang's world records.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Wang Junxia". International Association of Athletics Federations. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Wang Junxia". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Duncan Mackay (24 July 2001). "Ma's army on the march again". Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Athletics Weekly, 13 December 2012, p 62
  5. ^ a b Simon Hart (9 March 2012). "Scandal as controversial Chinese athlete Wang Junxia enters IAAF Hall of Fame". Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Matt Lawton (6 August 2012). "How athletics is still scarred by the reign of the chemical sisters". Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Athletics world records blow as Wang Junxia 'admits' being part of Chinese state-sponsored doping regime". Retrieved 2016-08-13. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Norway Ingrid Kristiansen
Women's 10,000 m World Record Holder
September 8, 1993 – August 12, 2016
Succeeded by
Ethiopia Almaz Ayana
Preceded by
China Zhang Linli
Women's 3,000 m World Record Holder
September 12, 1993 –
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Monica Seles
United Press International
Athlete of the Year

Succeeded by
China Le Jingyi
Preceded by
Germany Heike Drechsler
Women's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Russia Yelena Romanova
Women's 3,000 m Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Republic of Ireland Sonia O'Sullivan